“Form analytics is pretty geeky, so we have to frame it in a way that anyone can buy into,” says Tom New, chief product officer of Salford-based Formisimo.
The business, a 2014 Northern Stars winner, shows brands how customers use the forms on their websites. New usually starts his pitch from the point of view of the customer.
“I ask how many times they’ve gone to buy something and the form has broken or timed out and how frustrating that is, then show that across the world that represents a massive problem,” he says.
New’s pitches always include one minute where he talks about the Formisimo team. “I talk about the problem and solution and then why we’re the best people to solve it,” he says, adding that it’s also important to address future plans.
While he doesn’t keep to a script – “because if you go wrong you can choke” – he keeps a general structure that he can ad lib around as well as some transitional sentences to take him from one section to the next.
“I keep these sentences in mind so I know that whatever happens, if I remember them, I can get back to what I’m talking about,” he says. “It catapults you back into the flow of the presentation so you don’t go off at a tangent.”
Should I try and be funny?
Humour can be useful to get the audience on your side, but it doesn’t work for everyone and can throw you off course if you don’t pull it off. This is why New’s presentations are always delivered straight.
“Humour makes you memorable, but bad humour makes you memorable in the worst possible way,” he says. “I saw a presentation where someone told a joke and swore as part of it. There was a big pause afterwards where no one laughed and that bombed. Humour doesn’t work for everyone, and it’s completely fine to do a straight but polished presentation.”
There are other big no-nos, such as turning around to the screen behind you and effectively turning your back on your audience, or speaking too quickly because you’re excited.
“Enthusiasm is great but don’t let it slide into mania,” he says. “If you can feel yourself speeding up, take a breath.”
New estimates he has pitched the business about 500 times, yet still suffers from occasional nerves.
“I do get nervous beforehand but it’s excited nerves rather than a feeling of dread and you can hide nerves behind a lot of practice,” he adds.